Keeping our borders safe and secure
Keeping our borders safe and secure is a key priority for me. In the past pretty
much anyone could just wander into the UK. They could then sign on, get housing
priority and free healthcare too. This made people angry. They would tell me on
the doorstep they had worked hard and paid their taxes. They felt it was unfair
that priority was given to people who had not contributed.
So it's right
that firm action has been taken on this welfare tourism and to strengthen our
borders. The introduction of sniffer dogs has made an enormous difference. The
increase in border officers is welcome. As a result we are seeing far less
people breaking into the country. We can see this because people have
increasingly resorted to desperate measures. They try to cross on rickety rafts
or dangerous dinghies. So I welcome the Government embracing my call to step up
the patrols of border cutters.
We need to do more to tackle the root
cause of the problem too. Action has been taken to reduce the attraction of the
UK to people from overseas. There has been a crack down on welfare tourism with
new rules introduced. Now we need to go further in taking action on the serious
problem at Calais. It's not just bad for the migrants and bad for Calais. It
affects us too and will affect us more if people stop using ferries because they
find the situation at Calais intolerable.
So there should be a clear plan
of action. First France should act to repatriate these people or process any
asylum claims they may have. Second there needs to be an international effort to
deal with people trafficking gangs. When I went to Calais everyone told me they
had paid traffickers to get there. This is not just the UK and France - people
travel through Southern Europe to get to Calais. The container at the heart of
the recent tragedy came from Belgium. It's an EU effort that is required. It's
wrong for Brussels to sit idly by. The EU could play a real role in tackling the
international trafficking gangs.
Third more action should be taken to
reduce the attraction of the UK. This Government has done a lot. Yet it's worth
asking if more can be done. The less attractive the UK the smaller the problem
will become. Finally humanitarian aid in war torn countries makes a big
difference. Providing aid isn't just the right thing to do - it keeps people
close to their families and communities. Aid means that people are less likely
to travel and people can return home once conflict has ended.
controls are working. They are keeping our nation safe and secure. Yet we need
to deal with the root causes of the problem at Calais. That requires a more
thoughtful approach and international action.